too much stuff? plan your yard sale!


Moving into a smaller home made one thing immediately clear to us: we were overdue for a garage sale. So, as we unpacked our way-too-many boxes of stuff this January, we started a “for sale” pile and waited and waited for a sunny spring weekend. We got our wish a few weeks ago, making over $200 and clearing out some much-needed space in the process. All that was left was one box of small things that we donated. I’d call that a huge success. If you, too, are buried in things you no longer need or want, here’s what worked for us (and what we learned for the next one):

Use Craigslist — Look up other garage/yard sale ads to see what the typical hours are for sales in your area (we went with 9-3, and I think we could have ended by 2). Once that’s set, put your own ad on Craigslist by mid-week and then follow up with another one the night before the sale. Include a list of what you have; pictures are a bonus. If you have anything from Pottery Barn, mention it. A lot of people specifically asked where the Pottery Barn stuff was as soon as they arrived.

Get small bills — Most people pay with the $20 bills they get from the ATM. I got $60 of $5s and $1s, and that still wasn’t enough.

Price things in advance — There’s always room for negotiation (and, believe me, most people will try), but I think buyers appreciate seeing price tags. And, if you have a lot of stuff for sale, so will you.

Make street signs — We live near a busy intersection and put up big signs with arrows on both streets. As my husband was nailing one of the signs up, he saw drivers taking last-minute turns down our road as soon as they spotted it.

Find that old fanny pack — Or, to be a little more stylish, wear a cute apron with pockets. The sale can get busy, and you’ll want to keep your cash close.

Make $1 or $0.50 bins for the little doo-dads — Surprisingly, people seemed to like sifting through those bargain bins, like they were going to find a hidden treasure.

Don’t expect big-ticket items to sell — People are looking for a deal. Our patio set and nice dining room chairs garnered very few looks, so we sold them on Craigslist instead.

Hang those cute baby clothes – They drew oohs and ahhs, and I got more for them than if I sold them to a consignment shop.

Garage sale veterans, please add your own tips in the comments. And happy decluttering, everyone! –Ginny F.

Sign and photo by Flickr user hauntlove

Related: How do you feel about yard sales?

From our partners

I LOVE YARDSALES!!!!! my husband and i call ourselves “yard sale hunters” (saying it like a super hero works best).

My advice for yard/garage sellers is: 1) BIG signs work best, especially on bright paper. and an arrow is sufficient – too many words clutter the paper and then people in cars cant read them. 2) prices are much appreciated 3) if you can bake and have cute kids that want to sell lemonade with those cookies or brownies, most people will buy them and your kids would feel special by making their “own” money and feel included

Mike Johnson

Please have the courtesy to remove your signs when the sale is over. Every Monday and Tuesday I pull down the signs people left up. If I didn’t do it, there’d be dozens of signs plastered on every pole in our neighborhood.

Tell your neighbors about your plans because they may want to make it a multi-family sale. More customers, less work, more profit. Everybody wins, even the neighbors who don’t like yard sales.

I totally agree with Mike above – tell your neighbors and make it a group effort! That will really help.

Also, I’ve had success listing bigger items on CL in the “furniture” section, then tell people that if they are interested in it, they can come to the yard sale to check it out. It worked out great! I sold 3 big pieces (futon, dining table, side table) this way.

dont forget, be willing to let things go for less than you plan … or run the risk of having to donate at the end of the sale and making nothing on it anyway.

I like to have a FREE table, little stuff that would probably get donated instead of sold, and toward the end of the sale, I start moving unsold items to the FREE table and that’s one less trip to the donation center.


More than just “pottery barn,” use any and all keywords on craigslist. if you have ever tried to find the best garage sales for shopping, you know that those keywords matter a lot – vintage, retro, mid-century modern, kids clothes, baby clothes, furniture, (list the furniture, if big pieces… some people seplace specifically for dining room tables, or whatever). Only use keywords that are TRUE. No mid-century modern shopper is going to buy ikea junk because it looks sort of MCM. You’re just wasting their time. Cross-list in the furniture section if you are selling something specific. Same thing with vehicles, bicycles, musical instruments, anything of significant value.

Drag in the neighbors if you can, that is one of the best pieces of advice. It makes a profound difference.

The earlier you start, the more customers you have. When we start a garage sale by 8am, it sells much better than one that starts at 9am. If you start at 7am, you are in an even better spot. Earlier in the day = more money, more demand, higher prices, etc.

If you are selling to get rid of stuff, go 1/2-off after noon or 2pm. Otherwise, you’re stuck hauling a lot of stuff to goodwill yourself.

Have a plan for “shifts” of work so you’re not totally exhausted. Plan meals ahead of time, so you’re not stuck running out for expensive take-out with your hard-earned dollars.

WEAR SUNSCREEN. (seriously)

these are some good tips to attract more buyers, specially making use of street signs to boost sales and side by side getting rid of unwanted stuff.

i have never tried craiglist because i feel that its too crowded and almost everyone is selling on it, this develops a bad feeling and i don’t think i will get much benefit if i start selling.

Still, some real valuable points and i must say thanks :)